Anne Perry, . . Ace, $24.95 (512pp) ISBN 978-0-441-01089-9

Five hundred years after the events of Tathea (1999), the time has come for the final showdown between Light and Dark in this unengaging sequel from mystery bestseller Perry (No Graves as Yet). Tathea, granted immortality to carry the teachings of the Book to all, returns from exile with a talisman engraved with words that will name the warriors who are to fight Armageddon. One by one, the warriors are identified, but Armageddon does not come. The ultimate evil, personified as Asmodeus, plans to wait and strike when time and old age have taken their toll on the forces of Light. Realizing this, the leadership of the Light sacrifice one of their warriors to provoke Armageddon. In so doing, they free Tathea's archenemy, Tiyo-Mah, who promptly begins waging war and sowing discord. Tathea, an uneasy blend of immortal goddess and pain-wracked woman, must inspire and pull together the warriors of Light in their desperate struggle. But in the end, for the final conflict, it comes down, as it must, to Asmodeus and Tathea herself. The epic scale describes cities and countries, not individuals, which blunts emotional impact, and characters too often descend into types. Though an able writer, Perry prefers to tell rather than show, making events and characters ultimately unsatisfying because the grand sweep obscures the personal. It's impossible to care about the characters and their reactions to world-shattering events. (Sept. 2)

Forecast:Fans of Perry's mysteries will take up the slack left by indifferent fantasy aficionados. The Mormon-inspired allegory will also resonate with LDS readers.